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Caroline Dufour

Abstract

This article explores how French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of fields, by encouraging a critical analysis of what the state does and produces, can bring a new perspective to studying the history of public administration. To do so, it explains how the theory can be used to perform historical analysis of public administration, and examine the case of the introduction of the merit system in the Canadian federal public administration to illustrate its perspective. The article concludes that the interplay among the theory’s core concepts – capital, field, and habitus – offers a reconceptualization of the study of administrative history that integrates historical, social, and political elements.